IRISH couples are looking at travelling to the Czech Republic for IVF treatment where it costs half the price.
An infertility support group has told how it has been contacted by women who are absolutely distraught because they can't afford the cost of infertility treatment.
Helen Browne, of the National Infertility Support and Information Group, said the downturn in the economy has seen an increase in the numbers who are struggling to afford IVF treatment, which can cost up to €5,000 for a fresh cycle.
They have reduced pay and working hours and don't have the money for IVF treatment, she said.
Ms Browne said, in the past, couples could ask their family to help them out. But with the downturn, they now found it difficult to approach them.
She said that people say if they could even afford one treatment, at least they would know they had tried. She said that the group receives calls from people who are distraught they can't afford to go for treatment.
However, she said that the internet has opened up a new world to people. "They would see that they can travel to the Czech Republic and treatment is €2,000 to €2,500."
She added: "Where I would have concerns or worries would be if somebody had a side effect to the drugs."
They would have to go all the way to Prague again, she said.
In the UK, health watchdog Nice has just proposed that women in their forties should be offered three cycles of IVF after two years of trying for a baby on the NHS.
Ms Browne said that in Ireland, the support group would be in favour of IVF being made available free of charge here. She said that the number of cycles could be a matter for debate.
"I personally think if someone has failed treatment, they should help them out for three cycles."
In Ireland, at the moment standard IVF typically costs €3,700 to €5,000. The drugs payment scheme applies to many IVF drugs; and most insurers reimburse at least some infertility investigation costs.
Ms Browne said: "The World Health Organisation has recognised infertility as a medical condition. The Government's hands here are tied simply because there is no legislation. They need to legislate."